Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Moving Beyond Theory: Practical Steps for Product Managers

User avatar of Adaeze Chukwu

Adaeze Chukwu

8 min read·113 Reads
Moving Beyond Theory: Practical Steps for Product Managers

Having understood the theoretical fundamentals of product management, the next important step lies in practical application. As a product manager, being able to combine theory with practice is essential for growth. Here are some important steps you can take to further your growth.

1. Volunteer Work

It can be a bit of a drag working without getting paid, but if you’re hoping to scale your career from basic to at least junior, volunteer work is a great way to get started. A couple of platforms you can check out for volunteer opportunities are:

  • Democracy Lab: Democracy Lab connects skilled volunteers with social impact organizations to create technology solutions for civic engagement and social justice.

  • Volunteer Match: Volunteer Match is a platform that matches volunteers with nonprofits based on their skills and interests. You can search for product management volunteer opportunities in your area or remotely.

  • Taproot Foundation: Taproot Foundation connects skilled professionals with nonprofits to provide pro bono consulting services, including product management.

  • Idealist: Idealist is a platform that lists volunteer opportunities with nonprofits and other organizations. You can search for product management roles and filter by location, cause area, and more.

2. Internship Opportunities

Internships are invaluable for gaining hands-on experience in product management. Many companies offer internships specifically for product management roles, allowing you to work closely with experienced professionals and contribute to real projects. Keep an eye on job boards, company career pages, and professional networks for internship opportunities in product management. Here are some additional tips for securing a product management internship:

  • Tailor your cover letter to highlight relevant skills that make you a good fit for a product management role. (This would go smoothly if you have experience. Volunteer!)

  • Network with professionals in the industry through events, online communities, and informational interviews to learn about internship opportunities and get referrals.

  • Prepare for interviews by researching the company, understanding its products and industry, and practicing common product management interview questions.

  • Be proactive in seeking out internship opportunities by reaching out to companies directly, even if they don’t have formal internship programs advertised.

3. Joining tech programs

Joining a tech program as a product manager enhances technical understanding, problem-solving skills, and collaboration with engineering teams, keeps one updated on industry trends, and provides valuable networking opportunities. Some platforms I would recommend for learning tech programs are:

  • Africa Agility(women only): Africa Agility runs a five-month program designed to provide young African women with tech training, mentorship, and job opportunities.

  • She Code Africa(women only): She Code Africa is a non-profit organization focused on celebrating and empowering young girls and women in tech across Africa with various tech skills and job opportunities

  • Dev Career: Dev Career is a platform designed to support individuals seeking to enter the tech field by helping them overcome the challenge of selecting a programming specialization and offering valuable learning tools.

  • ALTSchool Africa: AltSchool Africa helps you learn the skills you need to build and grow your desired career. They offer training in multi-tech careers from data to engineering and product.

  • Talent Code Africa: Talent Code Africa is an upcoming platform that offers tutorials on various tech paths and helps techies elevate their careers, explore high-paying tech jobs, and gain access to a talent portal connecting them with top recruiting organizations.

4. Networking

As a product manager, networking is essential if you’re looking to gain hands-on experience with the theoretical knowledge you possess. Here are some steps to help you make the most of networking opportunities.

  • Post your learnings: It’s as simple as it sounds, whatever theory you’ve learned, post about it. It could be on any social media platform of your choice such as LinkedIn, twitter, or WhatsApp. Let people know you exist!.

  • Follow people in your field: Connect with professionals in product management on social media and follow their work. Engaging with their content can provide insights, spark conversations, and expand your network.

  • Attend industry events: Participate in product management meetups, conferences, and workshops both online and in person. These events are excellent opportunities to meet industry professionals, learn from their experiences, and build relationships.

  • Join online communities: Engage with product management communities on platforms like Slack, Reddit, or specialized forums. These communities offer a wealth of knowledge, networking opportunities, and chances to collaborate on projects.

  • Offer help and support: Be proactive in offering assistance to others in your network. Whether it’s providing feedback, sharing resources, or offering advice, contributing to the community can help you build meaningful connections.

  • Seek mentorship: Find mentors who can provide guidance, support, and insights as you navigate your product management journey. Mentorship relationships can be invaluable for professional growth and development.

By actively networking and engaging with others in the field, you can gain practical experience, learn from others’ experiences, and build a strong professional network to support your career growth as a product manager.

Putting what you’ve learned into action is key for product managers to grow. By taking these steps, you can learn more, improve your skills, and move forward in your career. Just remember, practice makes perfect, and by doing so, you’ll keep getting better at what you do as a product manager.

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